Your kids are constantly being pressured to waste money. Advertising, microtransactions in “free” games, peer pressure, and even hidden product placements on TV are all programming your children to become indiscriminate consumers.
This is why you must teach your kids the value of money from an early age. You may already give your kids an allowance in exchange for them doing chores. But why stop there? You should also consider making them pay for some of your parenting expenses. Making kids pay for certain items will instill in them a stronger sense of financial responsibility and help prepare them for financial adulthood.
1. Movies and TV
From rentals at Redbox and the internet to movies on Blu-ray and DVD, and even trips to the theater, entertainment should be earned. Some parents have taken the step of charging their children 50 cents to watch a TV show or movie at home. That sounds extreme, but it certainly helps the kids understand that entertainment is a treat. Books, on the other hand, should always be free to your kids. If they know it’s going to cost money to watch that cartoon or TV show, the prospect of a free book looks way more enticing.
2. Designer clothing and accessories
Kids should not pay for the clothing and accessories they need, like well-fitting shoes and warm winter coats. But there’s a world of difference between the apparel they need and the latest designer threads they want because their friends and favorite celebrities are wearing them. Yes, as kids get older, they place more importance on superficial things like name brands, expensive accessories, and “must have” fashions. But if they must have it, then they must pay for it. They will soon realize how expensive it is to wear the trendiest labels.
3. Candy, gum, and other sweet treats
A chocolate bar, a packet of gum, an ice cream cone, and a big bag of taffy are not on the list of life’s necessities. They treat – and should be occasional ones at that. Some people choose to hand out candies as rewards, and that’s OK. But it’s better to give the children money and let them take the next step to trade that cash for something sweet.
Wait, what? That’s a big sum of money to saddle a kid with, and we’re not suggesting your child pay for the whole thing, but helping with the costs, or even paying most of them, should be an early saving priority for them. College is key to unlocking future earning potential, and kids should contribute to this investment in their future success. More importantly, they’ll be more likely to make the most of their college years when they’re paying for it themselves.
5. Toys and games
There are a few times during the year when buying toys for the kids is a good idea: the holidays, birthdays, and maybe a little something in an Easter basket. Other than that, toys should be off-limits unless they plan to pay for them with their own money. The trouble with buying toys for kids, of any age, is that they won’t appreciate them if they just show up. Spending $5 on a small toy may not seem like a lot of money to you, but to an 8-year-old on a tight budget, it’s a small fortune. If they have to fork over $5 for that toy, it will become a prized possession.
6. Pets and pet supplies
Pets are wonderful family companions, and for children, they can teach important lessons about caregiving, loyalty, and empathy. Covering all the costs associated with a quintessential family pet like a dog or a cat may be out of reach for most allowance budgets (although teens with after-school jobs could be asked to pitch in). But for other kinds of pets, like fish or insects, your kids should cover most – or all – of the associated costs. After all, one important lesson of responsible caregiving is how much it actually costs to properly care for another living being.
7. Gifts for friends and family
Remember when you were a little kid and your mom or dad would buy a gift for you to give back to them on birthdays and holidays? Well, that’s fine for a toddler, but when kids start getting an allowance or earning money for chores, that practice should stop. Gift giving is not about the gift itself, but the thought and emotion behind it. A homemade gift from a child will always have far greater sentimental value than an expensive store-bought gift, so encourage your kids to pay for crafting supplies and small gift items with their own money.
8. Cosmetics and beauty supplies
Although this will primarily affect teenagers, most kids are into the idea of changing their appearance and having a unique identity. Whether it’s makeup, hair dye, nail art, or even services at the local salon, you shouldn’t cover the costs of the kids’ personal style statements. If it’s a very special occasion, like a prom or homecoming, that’s a different story. But for everyday makeup or manicures, put the onus on them to pay for it. They will probably get very creative with how they spend their own money, including sharing supplies with friends and doing each other’s nails and hair.
9. Any items freely available elsewhere
Books, DVDs, CDs, and magazines are available for free from the local library. Even if a title is not on the shelves, libraries can order copies from other branches, or even purchase them via a special request. If your kid just has to have his or her very own copy of a book or movie, tell them to buy it. There are many options open to them for purchase, so offer to help them save money by using eBay, arranging and attending a purchase via Craigslist, visiting thrift stores, and even subscribing to services that lend unlimited items for a monthly fee (you can even do this with toys now).
10. Replacements for items they broke
Accidents happen. As an adult, when you break something you have no choice but to pay for a replacement. And even if there’s a warranty, you may be paying a deductible and some shipping fees. Now imagine if anything you broke was replaced completely free of charge. How careful would you be? Let the kids know that if they break it, it’s on them to replace it or live without it. This rule should include inexpensive stuff like toys, games, and pricey items like smartphones and scooters.
Credit: Money TalksNews